Company Denied Job Based on View That All Type I Insulin-Dependent Diabetics Are 'Fragile' and Not Suited to Work Offshore, Federal Agency Charges
from a Press Release on July 25, 2016
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
NEW ORLEANS - Oilfield Instrumentation, USA, Inc., an oilfield services company, violated federal law by withdrawing a job offer to an applicant because of his diabetes, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, on Feb. 4, 2013, Carl J. Devalcourt, III, a Type I insulin-dependent diabetic, applied for a service technician position at Oilfield Instrumentation. Two days later, he interviewed with Tom Walker, a hiring manager. Devalcourt received a job offer and informed Walker that he would like to move forward with the hiring process, which included taking a required drug test and physical examination.
After that, Devalcourt went to Acadian Health Services Clinic for the physical examination. Dr. Francisco Silva examined Devalcourt and determined that he was in "good physical shape" and that his diabetes was "well-controlled." Dr. Silva expressed his concern to Devalcourt that he had Type I insulin-dependent diabetes and wanted to work offshore. However, Devalcourt assured Dr. Silva that he was on an insulin pump, that he had two years of previous experience working offshore as a diabetic, without incident, and that he took necessary precautions to ensure his safety.
After the exam, Dr. Silva contacted Oilfield Instrumentation to inform the company that Devalcourt was a Type I insulin-dependent diabetic. Dr. Silva then informed Devalcourt that Oilfield Instrumentation was no longer interested in proceeding with the employment process. In a letter addressed to Oilfield Instrumentation, Dr. Silva stated that Type I diabetics are "fragile" and determined that Devalcourt was not qualified for the position of service technician simply because he has that condition. EEOC said that Oilfield Instrumentation did not base its decision to withdraw the job offer on the type of fact-intensive assessment mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Rather, the company simply revoked the offer on the basis of a sweeping determination that Type I insulin-dependent diabetics could not work offshore, regardless of whether the particular diabetic employee could perform the essential functions of his job.
Such alleged conduct violates the ADA. EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (EEOC v Oilfield Instrumentation, U.S.A., Inc., Case No. 6:16-cv-01089), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Oilfield Instrumentation from engaging in unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability in the future, as well as lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages for Devalcourt, and other relief the court deems proper.
"This lawsuit reminds employers of their obligation to conduct individualized assessments of a person's ability to perform the essential functions of a job," said EEOC Houston Regional Attorney Jim Sacher.
EEOC New Orleans Field Office Director Keith Hill added, "Hiring decisions based upon reliance on negative stereotypes associated with particular disabilities violate the ADA and will not be tolerated."
Oilfield Instrumentation is an oilfield services company that provides real-time drilling instrumentation. It has offices in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, North Dakota, California and Pennsylvania.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.